Top Banner
Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E - 38 ISSN: 2036-5438 Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya, fact or illusion? The case of Marsabit County by Ibrahim Harun I Perspectives on Federalism, Vol. 11, issue 3, 2019

Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Dec 04, 2021



Welcome message from author
This document is posted to help you gain knowledge. Please leave a comment to let me know what you think about it! Share it to your friends and learn new things together.
Page 1: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


ISSN: 2036-5438

Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya, fact or


The case of Marsabit County


Ibrahim HarunI

Perspectives on Federalism, Vol. 11, issue 3, 2019

Page 2: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -



Devolution and the associated mechanisms of governance, such as power-sharing,

limited government, a reformed system of public administration and civic engagement, and

its features that include the protection of minorities, inclusivity and socio-economic

development, are all parts of the wider mosaic of peacebuilding. In Kenya, the devolution of

political, fiscal and administrative powers to 47 counties is built on the promises of enhancing

democracy, building peace, and ensuring the equitable distribution of resources. This article

investigates whether devolution has delivered on the promise of greater inclusion,

accountability and peace in the Marsabit County. The investigation revealed that the

adaptation of a devolved system in Kenya has radically transformed Marsabit County: socio-

economic development has improved, and significant progress is recorded in the health and

education sectors. Critical challenges remain and these include the prevalence of ethnic

conflict, endemic corruption, limited resources, an inequitable distribution of resources and



Kenya, devolution, ethnic conflicts, Marsabit, Socio-economic development, Resource


Page 3: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


1. Introduction

Decentralisation is increasingly viewed as a potential solution to some of the problems

that Africa is facing (Bancati 2009). In Kenya, the devolution of political, fiscal and

administrative powers to 47 counties is built on the promises of enhancing democracy,

ensuring the equitable distribution of resources, the inclusion and participation of minorities

in government, as well as enhancing checks and balances, and protection of the separation

of powers (Ghai 2015). Debates over federalism and decentralisation took place in Kenya at

independence in 1963 with the nation initially establishing a devolved government commonly

referred to as ‘Majimbo ‘ (Nabwire 2018 & Gertzel et al. 1969).Thus, Kenya’s first constitution

provided for Majimboism with a central government and seven regional administrations

(Coast, North-Eastern, Eastern, Nairobi, Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza). The executive

authorities were vested with a Governor (Article 72(1) of the Kenya Constitution 1963) and

a Prime Minister (Article 75(1) of the Kenya Constitution 1963) with regional executives at

the regions’ headquarters. In addition, the legislative authorities were vested with two houses

of parliament – the Senate and the House of Representatives (Article 34(2) of the Kenya

Constitution 1963). Nonetheless, political leaders and elites were divided on the suitability of

Majimboism or any form of decentralisation in Kenya. During negotiations an ideological split

emerged as the communities perceiving themselves as minorities pushed for a federal

republic, while dominant groups such as the Kikuyu and Luo pushed for a unitary system.

Jomo Kenyatta and Oginga Odinga were major opponents of Majimbo: Kenyatta’s intention

was to rule Kenya under Kikuyu hegemony; Odinga thought a unitary system would be best

for Kenya, in the sense that it would promote national identity and unity. Majimbo was

dismantled less than 2 years after independence. (Ogot 1995).

The constitution was amended in 1964 and 1969, resulting in the end of devolved and

multiparty system in Kenya. The House of Representatives and Senate were merged to form

the National Assembly, while the Head of State and Prime Minister were consolidated to

create a strong presidency with unlimited powers (Gertzel 1966).

The post 1964 era witnesses the continued existence of, the powerful provincial colonial

administration and its use as a major agent of the executives up the 2000sII. The successive

Kenyan presidents – Jomo Kenyatta (1963-1978) and Daniel arap Moi (1979-2002) – both

Page 4: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


used centralised state power and resources to favour their regions and exclude other

communities from public opportunities and development (Bosire CM, 2015 and Muigai G,

2004). Bureaucratic inefficiencies related to the centralisation of power caused a further

decline in access to resources and development (Ibid.). The public service became an

appendage of the executive through which the president, his family, ethnic group, and close

political associates amassed wealth through rent-seeking and the illegitimate and primitive

accumulation of the resources of the state (Sihanya 2011). This resulted in regional and other

geographical inequalities, marginalisation and disenfranchised citizens of their

constitutionally guaranteed rights. Dissent was expressed in the form of political party

opposition, a vibrant civil society and international support for political and legal reforms

(Ibid). Mwai Kibaki come to power in the year (2002-2007) through such change, however,

corruption, ethnic favouritism and inter-communal violence continued during his two terms

in the office.

The Northern Frontier Districts (NFD) are the regions that Kenya’s successive

presidents marginalised and excluded the most.III The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation

Commission reports found that Northern Kenya – taken to consist of the former Northern

Frontier Districts, the Upper Eastern and North Rift Valley provinces – suffered particularly

harsh economic marginalisation as a result of biased or indifferent state policies (TJRC Vol.

1 2013: xv). The implication is that marginalisation in this region occurred with hardships

often passed on to subsequent generations through a cycle of limited education and

employment opportunities. The Commission noted further that women, minority groups

and indigenous people suffered state-sanctioned discrimination. As a result, the NFD

suffered gross violations of human rights on account of their ethnicity, limited resources and

continued conflicts in the region (TJRC Vol. 2C 2013: 28). The complex underlying causes

of violations and marginalisation in the NFD include centralised power, a culture of

impunity, inter-ethnic competition, uneven development, under-employment and patriarchy


The 2007 post-election violence, which resulted in death and destruction, resulted in

intensified calls for fundamental constitutional changes.IV A devolved system was adopted in

2010 to address some of the challenges discussed above. It is expected to enhance democratic

governances, fostering unity by recognising diversity, addressing historical injustices which

resulted in glaring disparities in regional development. Devolution is also expected, in the

Page 5: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


long run, to tackle ethnically motivated violence by lowering the stakes in the competition

for the presidency, a persistent cause of ethnic violence in Kenya.

The adaption of the devolved system in Kenya has radically transformed the previously

forgotten NFD. The region’s, including the Marsabit County, have witnessed the county

government’s expansion of the functions, such as agriculture, county health services, county

transport, cultural activities, county education, and public works and services, which fall

under its ambit since the devolved system was adoptedV. As a result, socio-economic

development is being enhanced, women and youth are getting empowered, and access to

education and health care services has improved.VI However, endemic corruption, perennial

conflicts and limited resources is decelerating the success of devolution in the county.

Therefore, this article investigates if the devolution has delivered on the promise of

greater inclusion, accountability and peace in Marsabit County. The article proceeds as

follows: the next section appraises the objectives of devolution in Kenya and evaluates the

implementation of these objectives under the first and second county government in

Marsabit. The article then examines the challenges that impede the realisation of devolution

objectives in Marsabit. It ends with a conclusion that argues that both county and national

government need to settle ethnic conflicts and cultural rivalries to foster peace and realise

the objectives of devolution in Marsabit.

2. Devolved system in Kenya

In August 2010, Kenya promulgated a new constitution whose provisions included the

devolution of political, fiscal and administrative powers from the national government to 47

counties.VII The constitutional provisions under Chapter 11 of the 2010 Constitution

represent a fundamental shift in the state structure in Kenya, from centralised unitary system

to a devolved government.VIII The decentralisation of power to 47 counties under the

leadership of democratically elected governors indicates a move towards more inclusive and

accountable county institutions that would be able to deliver better services. It was also

hoped that devolution would bring the government services closer to the people, enhance

democratic and development gains by giving marginalised communities an increased stake in

the political system and enabling local solutions to be found for local problems.

Page 6: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


The constitution also requires ‘each level of government to perform its functions and

powers in a manner that respects the functional and institutional integrity of the government

at the other level’ (Art 189 of the Kenya Constitution). Art 1(4) of the Kenya Constitution,

2010, stipulates that the sovereign power of the people is exercised at (a) the national level;

and (b) the county level. Kenya’s historical experiences informed the inclusion of these

constitutional clauses specifically to protect counties from having their powers usurped by

the national government, as previously happened under the old constitutional order.

The 2010 Constitution sought to ensure that the exercise of presidential and

gubernatorial powers is checked and in the process enhance national cohesion. The executive

has been delinked from the legislature and a number of checks and balances introduced to

curb executive dominance, as was the practice before. The executives will be subjected to

horizontal, vertical and normative checks and balances. Horizontal checks are in the form of

an independent and empowered bicameral parliament,IX an independent and administratively

empowered judiciary, and commissions and independent offices.X Vertical checks are in the

form of a devolved system of county governments, a restructured public service and an

empowered civil society. The 2010 Constitution stipulates that the president, the governance

and the entire public service be subjected to normative standards in their exercise of

constitutional, statutory and administrative functions. Furthermore, the Constitution has

established various measures to ensure that the president has the support of Kenyans beyond

his or her ethnic base. The constitution also calls for the composition of executive and

legislative systems that reflect the country’s diversities.

Other affirmed intentions of the devolved system in Kenya include the protection of

minority rights and marginalised groups,XI enhancing democratic governance, fostering peace

and unity by recognising diversity, Scott-Villiers rightly notes that ‘devolution in Kenya is

aimed at reducing incidents of violence arising from the politicisation of ethnicity’ (Scott-

Villiers 2017:247). He argues further that, ‘politicised ethnicity had long been one of the

active mechanisms that governed the distribution of goods, rights and responsibilities in the

Kenyan state’ (Ibid.248). Therefore, devolution is expected to lead to a more inclusive and

accountable national and county institutions that are able to deliver better services for all and

in turn reduce the tension and divisions that cause conflict.

Objectives of devolution in Kenya is provided in article 174 (a)-(h)XII. Objectives is

achieved while observing national values as set out in Article 10 which includes; -

Page 7: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


a) Patriotism, national unity, the sharing and devolution of power, the rule of law,

democracy and the participation of the people;

b) Human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-

discrimination and the protection of the marginalised;

(c) Good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability and

(d) Sustainable development (Article 10 (2) (a)-(d) of the Kenya Constitution 2010).

The above national values and principles of governance seek to diffuse, if not eliminate

altogether, the ethnic tensions fuelled by perceptions of marginalisation and exclusion.

County governments have been in place since the March 2013 general election, and much

effort and resources have been dedicated to implement their functions. The county

governments have to build new institutions and develop capacity from scratch to enable

them to perform their functions and exercise their powers.

3. Marsabit County – a brief background

Marsabit is the largest county in Kenya with its population having increased from 291,077

in 2009 to 459,785 in 2019 (KNBS, 2019).XIII The county’s physical environment is marked

by desert or semi-desert conditions with the exception of Mount Kulal (close to

Loiyangalani), Mount Marsabit (where Marsabit Town is located), and Hurri Hills (in North

Horr).XIV As a result, arable farming is limited to only 3 per cent of the county’s total land

area and mainly in the areas around Mount Marsabit (Fratkin & Roth 2005). For this reason,

the livelihood systems of the area’s inhabitants have historically depended on pastoral

production with farming in the region, which remains limited, only commencing after the

advent of the colonial era. In the other remaining areas, pastoralism is the predominant form

of land use.

Marsabit is composed of four sub-counties and these are Laisamis, Saku, North Horr,

and Moyale.XV In addition, the county is home to a number of ethnic groups, the major ones

being the Borana, Gabra, Rendille, Burji, Samburu, Turkana, Dessanetch, Walu, and Somali

communities (Ibid.). Historically, nearly all ethnic groups in the county engage in pastoralist

livelihoods. The Gabra and Rendille communities herd camels, cattle, goats, and sheep,

whereas the Borana and Samburu largely herd cattle, and the Burji are entrepreneurs and

small-scale farmers.

Page 8: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


3.1 Marsabit prior to devolution

Prior to independence, Marsabit was part of the Northern Frontier District (NFD) in

what was also known as Northern Frontier Province (NFP). Ghai rightly noted that the NFD

was not fully integrated into Kenya until shortly before independence (Ghai 2015). As the

British prepared to relinquish their control over the Kenya Colony, their authorities decided

to transfer the NFD to the Somali Republic, These plans inspired hope of reunification

between Kenyan Somalis and their ethnic brethren (Ibid.). However, ethnic groups in

Marsabit, are divided on the issues of secession. The Borana, with the exception of the Waso

Borana,XVI were not interested in the creation of a Greater Somalia (Branch 2011: 28-35). At

the same time, ethnic groups such as the Garreh, Somalis and Rendille supported secession.

The Borana feared that their merger into Somalia would lead to a loss of Borana lands and

political rights. Although the Borana and Somalis belonged to the same linguistic family and

practised nomadic pastoralism, there were certain religious and cultural differences between

them that influenced against the realization of a united front (Schlee 2008).

The Somalis are largely Muslim while the Borana (apart from few of Isiolo Borana) follow

customary practices linked to the Oromo Gadaa system. It is also important to note that

various Borana viewed Oromia (Region of Ethiopia) and not Somalia, as their ‘homeland’

(Arero 2007). The Majority of Borana speaks Oromo language whilst Somalis largely speaks

Somali language. The ethnic groups that supported secession joined the Somali nationalist

party called the Northern Province Progressive People’s Party (NPPPP) and campaigned for

secession (Ibid.). In the end, the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of the NFD voted

for secession in a referendum, which the colonial government organized in 1962, the results

of which were rejected by the Kenyan government. Even so, Britain suggested that the NFD

be given new regions (under a system of regionalism) which would have given Somalis in

Kenya greater autonomy, however, the offer was rejected by the Somalis (Ghai 2015).

The Kenyan government was staunchly opposed to secession because they did not wish

to lose a fifth of the new country’s territory and feared that it would stoke dangerous

centrifugal forces (either in the form of demands for self-rule or new secessionist

movements) that could threaten Kenya’s stability (Arero 2007). The Kenyan government’s

rejection of the results of the 1962 referendum led the dissatisfied NPPPP to launch a

guerrilla war under the umbrella of the Northern Frontier District Liberation Front

Page 9: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


(NFDLF). The guerrillas attacked government outposts and used weapons they acquired

from Somalia to gain an advantage in the previously largely dormant regions. The Kenyan

government responded by through draconian emergency powers, which were retained until

1969, with great brutality and overwhelming forces and thus, resulted in a successful

containment of the rebellion (Ghai 2015). Nonetheless, the end of the ‘shifta war,’ as the

conflict is popularly known, did not bring back , the stability and relative security experiences

during the colonial (and pre-colonial) period.

The elimination of the threat of secession meant that the government had few incentives

to devote further resources to the NFD. The region, much like its colonial predecessor, is

considered to be of low potential. Both Kochore (2016:499-500) and Arero (2007:294) noted

that the colonial and successive post-colonial government in Kenya did not do much to

develop Marsabit, hence the area was classified as a low potential area. As a result, the

communities in Marsabit did not imagine themselves as part of Kenya, owing to their social,

economic and political marginalisation (Arero 2007). The public services provided to the

local population remained very limited. The shifta guerrillas took advantage of the subsequent

neglect of the area and transformed themselves into actual bandits; for the next few decades

incidences of murder, robberies, and other criminal acts made Marsabit a highly dangerous

and volatile place (Branch 2011: 28-35). The deaths of two prominent leaders in Marsabit –

Daud Dabaso Wabera, first District Commissioner of the NFD and Isako Umuro, Member

of Parliament – were attributed to the secession and shifta war. (Schele and Shongolo 2012).

3.2 Marsabit County as a devolved unit

The Jomo Kenyatta government dissolved the NFD and the Somali-dominated regions

were changed to the North Eastern Province while the Borana regions, Isiolo and Marsabit

districts were transferred to the new Eastern Province. Marsabit County came into existence

with the promulgation of Kenya’s new constitution in 2010. The devolved government of

the new county was established in 2013 after a period of extensive preparation. Devolution

has enabled the development of regions, including rural areas, which were severely

underdeveloped. The merits of devolution are visible in Marsabit as noted in the improved

service delivery and passing of development plans that are more localised. Additionally,

public services have now become more accessible to the residents due to subsidiarity and

local control and management brought about by the devolution (Czuba 2018). This

Page 10: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


transformation has been possible because of the decentralization of budget allocation, of

which Marsabit County has been a major beneficiary.XVII The resources that the county

government manages and the power that comes with it also made the office of the governor

very attractive to political agents in the county.

Political competition in Marsabit has been complex due to its history and geographical

location. The devolution has intensified local political competition, cases of conflicts

increased and the major ethnic groups felt that ‘it’s their time to eat!’ – Meaning, they are

expecting to gain something, such as the potential of promised jobs and contracts, from the

political process (D’Arcy and Cornell 2016). Interestingly, there is no outright majority ethnic

group in the county. As a result, alliances were formed by like-minded ethnic groups to form

voting blocks in order to get the governorship and elective positions and upon getting

powers, the politicians divide up county executives and departmental heads amongst

themselves. Parties in the government wield huge county resources and reap huge rewards,

and opposition parties are left to wither. These ‘negotiated democracies’ have been found to

be inclusive enough to maintain short-term stability, in the long-run lead to exclusive services

delivery based on patronage rather than needs. Since adoption of devolved system, inter-clan

conflict over the scarce resources such as (grazing, water points and fertile lands) have

increased in magnitude and intensity. In addition, longstanding tensions pitting dominant

ethnic groups against minorities are exacerbated by the electoral context for county

leadership. Consequently, expectations that devolution would lead to peace has not been

fully realised in Marsabit County.

3.3 First county government – ReGaBu Alliance

The first governor of Marsabit Ukur Yattani. Ukur, who is from the Gabra tribe, was

elected under the new 2010 Constitution by the coalition of ethnic groups known as ReGaBu

(Rendille, Gabra and Burji). This coalition provided for interethnic cooperation in the

divisive politics in Marsabit, which was also meant to reduce Borana’s domination of the

political discourse in the county. Ukur, in order to obtain Burji and Rendille support, offered

them positions of the deputy governor and senator, respectively. He also sought to expand

the alliance to include smaller communities that might give it an electoral edge over the

Borana; to this end, the position of the female Member of Parliament was offered to the

Page 11: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


Garreh. The ReGaBu alliance took 22 seats from the 33 Members of County Assembly

(MCAs). Thus controlling both county executives and Assembly.

However, the relationships between the most powerful Marsabit politicians worsened

considerably after the 2013 elections. Governor Ukur’s political calculus changed in that,

although the ReGaBu coalition and the unification of the Gabra allowed him to become the

governor, ReGaBu and Gabra were expecting political rewards for their support.

Unfortunately, Governor Ukur is said to have side-lined both ReGaBu and his Gabra

constituents with the major beneficiaries said to be his immediate clan, which is Gabra-Gar.

Czuba noted that sub-ethnic favouritism was common; 10 out of 25 county directorships

were given to Gabra-Gar (Czuba 2018: 23). Czuba also mentioned that contracts and

government tenders were given to Ukur’s closest allies (ibid: 24). This unequitable pattern of

allocating government positions and contract led to discontent not only among the defeated

Borana but also political agents representing the Burji, Rendille and, to a lesser extent, the

non-Gabra-Gar. Hence, Ukur lost the governorship in 2017 to the new political alliance,

KAYO,XVIII which is led by Governor Mohamed Ali.

3.4 The second county government – KAYO alliance

Mohamed Ali, a Borana, was elected the second county governor after the 2017 general

elections. On their own, the Borana do not have a sufficient number of voters to win county

elections in Marsabit, as a result, Mohamed and his associates set out, to construct a new

interethnic alliance that intended to unseat Ukur. Thus, the KAYO alliance was formed a few

years before the 2017 general elections. Governor Mohamed won the seat on the distribution

of elective seats amongst the major tribes in a way similar to the success of the ReGaBu

alliance. The position of deputy governor was given to Burji, and the senatorial seat went to

Rendille. In addition, Governor Mohamed secured the support of the representatives of

small (non-Garre) Somali clans known as the ‘corner tribes’ (Aden 2014). True to his words,

Governor Mohamed included all ethnic groups in his executive and nominated minorities

and youths in the county assembly. He asserted that he would distribute resources and

opportunities across the county and that no one would be excluded from his government

services.XIX The KAYO alliance controls all executives and the county assembly, thus

enabling it to pass any policies and regulations easily.

Page 12: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


3.5 Performance of ReGaBu and KAYO in Marsabit

One of the most frequently cited argument in favour of the devolved system is that it

will have a positive impact on public basic needs in marginalised regions such as Marsabit.

Devolution’s ability to allow government to tailor decisions to the specific demands and

needs of the local population is perceived as enabling the matching of resources with citizens’

needs in a cost effective way. The transformation is visible in Marsabit: previously

marginalised communities, including minorities, are now enjoying the fruits of devolution

with services and government resources reaching every corner of the county. The minorities

are represented in the county assemblies and executives. Their voices and needs are provided

for. Nonetheless, many still feel that opportunities are given to elites and governors


Schedule four of the Kenya Constitution 2010 distributes functions and powers between

the national and county governments. The county governments have various functional

areas. These include agriculture; county health services; the control of air and noise pollution;

cultural activities; county transport, including roads, street lighting, traffic and parking, public

road transport, ferries and harbours; animal control and welfare; and trade development and

regulations. Further functions include, county planning and development; pre-primary

education; and county public services, which includes water and sanitation, firefighting

services and ensuring public participation in administration and governances. This section

briefly appraises how both the ReGabu and KAYO government have performed in the areas

of Health Services, Education, Agriculture and implementation of public participation.XX

3.5.1 Health Services

The Kenya constitution 2010 provides a legal framework that guarantees an all-inclusive

rights-based approach to health services in Kenya. Article 43 of the constitution provides

that Kenyans are entitled to the highest attainable standards of health, which include a right

to healthcare services such as reproductive health care. Article 53 provides the rights for

every child to basic nutrition, shelter and healthcare. The constitution proclaims further that

minorities and marginalised groups should have access to water, health services and


The health sector was the largest services sector to devolve under new 2010 constitution

yet it faces various challenges. The rationale for devolving the health services was to allow

Page 13: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


the county government to design models and interventions that matched the unique health

needs in their context. Nonetheless, Marsabit County has fewer health facilities per 100

square kilometres with patients traveling long distances and days to reach these limited health

amenities (Elliott and Abella 2005). The problem of distance is complicated by an unreliable

public transport service, specifically for residents of North-Horr, Loiyangalani and Laisamis.

Sometimes the people use camels and donkeys to transfer the critically ill to the health

facilities and oftentimes the long distance to these facilities result in deaths before they reach

health centres. Thus, the sparsely and fa-away located health services are a burden and risky

particularly for the critically ill, children, elderly and expectant women.

The Regabu Government built a Level 4 hospital in North-Horr and increased medical

personnel and Ophthalmology at the Marsabit Referral Hospital.XXI The KAYO alliance is

building modern facilities at the Marsabit Referral Hospital, Renal units were operationalised

in 2018 and now provide dialysis to county residents.XXII In addition, the construction of the

Kenya Medical Training Collage at the Hospital began in 2017/18. Similarly, KAYO built a

mother and child complex with bed capacity of more than 50 and established the KAYO

medical insurance scheme for county workers and residents. An impressive 26 new maternity

rooms were built and a number of health centres refurbished by KAYO. KAYO committed

30% of gross county revenue to health in order to strengthen their commitment towards

health. Finally, the adaptation of devolved system has witnessed an increase in the number

of health personnel in Marsabit from 330 in 2015 to 623 in 2019 (CIDP, 2019).

The improved infrastructures, facilities and services will offer improved health services

to the residents of Marsabit. The completed medical training college, will develop skills and

provide the much-needed health practitioners in the vast county. Both Kayo and Regabu

governments have shown commitment to the heath sectors. These are encouraging signs of

devolution in that, the county resident will benefit greatly from this development. In fact, a

study conduct by Rare and Ombui (2017:470) confirms that health sectors have improved

greatly under the devolution in Marsabit.

3.5.2 Agriculture

Agriculture is also one of the key sectors whose functions have been devolved under the

Constitution of Kenya, 2010. It remains the mainstay of the Kenyan economy and, accounts

for about 24 per cent of GDP and 74 per cent of employment (GoK, 2008). The sector has

Page 14: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


direct implications on at least two critical areas that the county has to address and these are

food security and youth employment. It is thus important that the devolution in the sector

be carried out in a way that addresses the aforementioned challenges and do not worsen


About 80 per cent of the Marsabit County residents are pastoralists deriving their

livelihood from livestock and livestock-based products. About 10 per cent of the total

population practises subsistence agriculture and resides mainly around Mount Marsabit in

the divisions of Central and Gadamoji. The mountain area receives high rainfall and thus

provides a suitable location for agriculture and economic development in the county.

Agro-pastoral systems involve about 16 percent of the population while both livestock

and food crops combined account for 50% of the income among agro pastoralist (GOK,

2013c). Crop production is limited to a few areas due to the low and erratic rainfall received

in most parts of the county. The contribution of the Agriculture sector to youth employment

in Marsabit is very high; approximately 70 percent of the labour force in the rural areas is

employed in agriculture (GOK, 2013). Although agriculture remains the main economic

activities in the county, the sector is exposed to environmental, economic, and social

constrains that affect productivity. Environmental conditions, such as droughts, floods, and

water scarcity, affect production and the marketability of livestock and agricultural products.

Devolution is enabling the county government to invest more in agriculture and livestock.

Under the Regabu, Livestock production was supported through the construction of sale

yards, livestock pends, market stalls and sinking boreholes. Whilst KAYO government

allocated more than Ksh 380 million in the 2018/2019 financial year to development and

growth of agriculture sectors.XXIII

3.5.3 Education

The Constitution of Kenya 2010 stipulate that every child has a right to free and

compulsory basic education (Article 53 (1) (b)). Article 55(a) provides that the states shall

takes measures, including affirmative action programmes to ensure that the youth access

relevant eduation and training. Constitution also provides that special oppertunities be given

to children belonging to minorities and marginalised groups (article 56 (b)). To give effect to

the Constitution, the Basic Education Act (No 14 of 2013) was passed into law to regulate

the provision of basic education and adult education in Kenya. Similarly, a number of policy

Page 15: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


relevant to education were adopted, the recent one include Medium Plan Term of Vision

2030 (2013) and Policy Framework for Education and Training (2012).

Kenya’s 2010 constitution devolves the provision of pre-primary education, village

polytechnics and home crafts to the county governments. Similarly, Section 26(1) of the

Kenya Basic Education Act No. 14 of 2010 stipulate that county government are responsible

for the funding the development of required infrastructure for the institutions providing

Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) services. ECDE is one of the most

important levers for accelerating attainment of Education for All goes, as well as the

Millennium Development Goals. (National Policy Framework for Education and Training).

In view this, the county government and stakeholders are expected to expand opportunities

for young children to access ECDE services.

The provision of basic education in the Marsabit continues to face numerous challenges

in spite of the government efforts to provide basic education to all its citizens. Children,

particularly those in the county’s rural areas, are engaged in pastoralist activities and hence

there are reported cases of a low participation in formal schools. Pastoralist are confronted

with a myriad of challenges that include the under development of infrastructures and

schools, rampant insecurity due to lack of sufficient law enforcement agencies, vastness of

the arid lands and cattle rustling. All these impedes children’s chances to access education.

Buma and Begi (2016:129) in their recent study on the social-cultural factors impeding

children’s access to early education, revealed that the majority of the children in Turbi

division in Marsabit County, do not have access to early childhood education. They noted

that factors such as taking care of livestock’s, participation in traditional ceremonies, and

female genital mutilation hinder the development and growth of the ECSs in the area.

Since independence, national plans and solutions have largely failed to provide adequate

solutions to the challenges faced by the county’s education sector. Net enrolment rations in

pre-primary, primary and secondary schools remain far below those of the national level.XXIV

The county has few educational facilities and endures low access, retention, completion and

transition rates.XXV In addition, there is a severe shortage of teacher’s with teachers from

other regions of Kenya not willing to work in some regions due to problems of insecurity.

The first county government made ECD their key priority areas. A number of ECD

Centres were built and training for more 160 caregivers provided under Regabu government.

Similarly, KAYO increased ECD and built centres across all four sub-counties, and allocated

Page 16: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


more funds to the youths and polytechnic skills development.XXVI Therefore, there is positive

development in early childhood education, thus obligation of children’s rights to education

gradually being fulfilled. Research conducted by Rare and Ombi (2015:470) on the effects of

devolution in improving living standard of Marsabit county, revealed that the devolution in

Marsabit County has positive results in all education levels and specifically growth and

expansion recorded in the early childhood programs.

3.5.4 Public participation and inclusivity

Public participation is an empowering process, which enables local people to do their

own analysis, take command and gain confidence (Chambers, 2002). Strengthening public

participation and governance is a core element of Kenya’s strategy to accelerate growth and

address long standing inequalities. The 2010 Kenya constitution and laws have expressly

mandated government officials, systems and processes to guarantee public participation and

actively promote it.XXVII The Kenya constitution demands transparency, accountability,

participation and inclusiveness in governance, and thus envisions a strong participation of

citizens, right from the grassroots, in decision-making processes. This is guaranteed through

devolution and platforms provided for this purpose.

The County Government Act of 2012 requires that the county governments ensure the

public participation, coordinate the participation, and develop the capacity of the public to

participate (The County Government Act, 2012, Section 87-89).XXVIII Moreover, the Public

Finance Management Act of 2012 requires public participation in county public finance

matters through the establishment of a County Budget and Economic Forum (Public

Finance Management Act of 2012).

Both Regabu and KAYO have passed public participation and civic education bills.XXIX In

expanding their services across the county, Regabu supports the listing of a new ethnic in

Kenya, commonly referred to as WAYU. KAYO has gone further than that in enhancing

public participation in all its programmes and activities. Nevertheless, a growing number of

scholars and researchers have been critical of county government. Bulle and Omubui (2016:

179) contend that under Regabu ‘Public participation is done in a hurry by the executive and

as such many people are left out of decision making in budget and other government

programmes’ they further noted that nepotism, clannism and ethnic favouritism by county

executives in youth employment was common under the Regabu. (ibid. 179). Similarly, Czuba

Page 17: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


(2018:23) notes that the Regabu regime gave preference on employment, county contracts

and public services to governor Ukur’s closest clans, particularly the Gabra-Gar. Nonetheless,

KAYO is improving the interactions between citizens and the government.XXX In addition,

people are closer to democratic processes that affect their lives directly. More efforts are

needed to enhance public participation, inclusivity, peace and conflict resolution; as

discussed below, conflict has been and continue to be the biggest challenge to development,

co-existence and harmony in the county.

4. Challenges that impede the realisation of objectives of devolution in Marsabit

4.1 Ethnic conflicts

The formation of a devolved system in Kenya has witnessed a change in the nature of

the conflict owing to the political developments in the country. Competition over the control

of administrative units or competing claims over boundaries has escalated in different regions

of Kenya. The Marsabit County has experienced a wave of violent conflicts, where major

ethnic groups (Borana, Burji, Gabra, Garreh, Dassenetch and Rendille) are competing for

limited arable land; access to and the utilisation of resources such as water and pasture;

politico-administrative units’ boundaries and for inclusivity in employment and government

opportunities. Traditionally, the majority of conflicts in the county have been caused by

competition over grazing space and water for livestock and sporadic cases of revenge

killings.XXXI Cattle rustling was very common and seen as one of the cultural practices, which

were sanctioned and controlled by the clan elders; such raids were carried out in order to

obtain bride-wealth or as a rite of passage.XXXII However, the motivations of such practices

have changed as rustling is now carried out to increase one’s own wealth or for commercial

purposes. The small arms that are easily available through porous borders fuel the conflict

in the county.XXXIII In addition, the ever-increasing fierce conflict between the communities

is a source of concern amongst themselves and security forces (Schlee 2008 & Gray et al.


Page 18: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


4.1.1 Conflict within the county

Members of the Borana and Gabra communities have politically and economically

dominated Marsabit for years. This dominance has created growing resentment from smaller

communities, such as the Rendille, Dessanenach and Burji. The Gabra and the Borana are

traditionally seen as one community since they speak the same language and share

settlements and pasture. However, the perception of dominance and inferiority within

members of the Gabra led to a gradual and increasingly assertive challenges at the social,

political and economic level to notions of Borana ‘supremacy’ in the county.XXXV Various

cases of conflict between the Borana and Gabra have been reported over the years with one

such conflict being the ‘turbi’ massacre, where more than 56 people were killed.XXXVI This

was followed by revenge killings a few days later, where 10 people were executed in broad

daylight in Bubisa. (Huka 2014)XXXVII In May 2019, 11 Gabra elders were killed in the border

town of Forolle (Ombat & Ngasike 2019). In November 2019, 10 people were killed, among

them two police officers in a retaliatory attack (Komu & Walter 2019).XXXVIII

Cases of conflict between the Gabra and Dessanach have also been reported. Conflicts

between the two groups, which occurred between 1915 and 1996, resulted in many deaths,

several injuries and the destruction of properties (Witsenburg 2012). Yet again, the conflict

between Gabra and Rendille was attributed to cattle rustling and revenge killings (Schlee

1991). Similar conflicts have also been reported between the Samburu and Borana,XXXIX

Garreh and Burji, Borana and Gareeh. (Schlee 2007). Political leaders have attributed these

conflicts to competition over pastures that arose from the drought conditions, cycles of

livestock thefts, growing political tensions between the groups over the political

developments in the county and land issues (Scott-Villiers 2017). Ethnic violence in the

Marsabit County has resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives and property and adversely

affected human security. It also heightened tensions and hatred between the communities.

Eventually, increasing conflicts have affected the livelihood of all the ethnic groups in the

county in a negative way. (Cynthia 2000).

4.1.2 Spillovers from border areas

Moyale District, which is in Marsabit County, borders Ethiopia,XL XLI Moyale is

geopolitically and economically important to both the Kenyan and Ethiopian governments.

The dominant ethnic groups on both sides of Moyale are Borana, Gabra, Garreh and Burji

Page 19: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


and these transcend national boundaries in terms of settlement, ethnic and kinship

relationships (Kefale 2009). The strategic geopolitical and economic importance of the

border between Kenya and Ethiopia made it a contested space among many actors, including

the Oromia regional state and the Somali regional state in Ethiopia. Periodic conflicts

between the communities along the Ethiopia-Kenya border have existed for centuries.XLII

Over the years, cases of conflict have been reported between Borana-Garreh, Gabra-

Borana, Garreh-Gabra and recently between Burji and Gabra. Reports on conflict amongst

the community started as early as the 1990s and most of this spilled over to each of the sides

of the border. In December 2011, fighting broke out in rural areas on the Kenya side that

are close to the international border with the media reporting that more than 7,000 people

fled into Ethiopia (IRIN, Kenya 2012). In August 2013, immediately after general elections,

more houses were burnt down and some 24 people died (All Africa, Kenya 2013). The Moyale

conflict of 2013, which was felt on both sides of the border, led to 200 deaths, 53,968

displacements and 100 burnt houses (UNDP 2015). It was alleged in this conflict that

Governor Ukur’s administration encouraged his kin from Ethiopia to settle on the Borana

settlements permanently, which the Borana saw as a wider scheme to change demographic

patterns in favour of Gabra in future elections. Thus, many have attributed this to the curse

of devolution.

In July 2012, armed militia attacked two villages near Moyale on the Ethiopian side.

Houses were burned, more than 19 people died, and the Red Cross reported that 20,000

people fled into Kenya (BBC, Ethiopia 2013). In May and June 2015, conflict erupted

between the Gabra and Garreh over land claims arising from the Somalis establishment of a

new village under the Libaan zone that crossed into the Borana territory used by the Gabra

for grazing. Even though there was no historical indication showing Garreh’s territorial

ownership of and settlement in the contested village, the group, backed by the then federal

government in Addis Ababa, has been continuously been expanding into Borana land (Ibid.).

Conflicts on the Ethiopian side of the border between communities have claimed many lives

with various people displaced and properties on both sides of the border destroyed.

Conflict within the county and spillovers from Ethiopia continues and this has escalated

in magnitude, intensity and frequency. The worsening of relationships and increasing

commercialisation of raids, as well as the spread and use of devastating automatic weapons,

have intensified the conflict as noted in the way the attacks affect combatants, women and

Page 20: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


children (Ibid.). Most of the incidents occurring since 2013 relate to the political

developments in Kenya, in particular, the devolved system. There is a general view, which

asserts that devolution has been a curse to the pastoral community. Competition over voters

and future voting blocks and resources accompanying it have fuelled the conflict. The

persistence of conflicts has reduced cooperative and social relationships that had existed over

a long period. The recurrent ethnic conflict will have a profound impact and greatly delay

the region’s socio-economic development, economic growth and derail the achievement of

the objectives of devolution.

4.2 Resource-distribution

Scholars and researchers have continuously pointed out that access to and the

distribution of resources are the most common causes of conflict in Africa.XLIII The unequal

distribution of resources, inequalities and the human passion for greed is one of the root

causes of conflicts over time and across countries. This reality is apparent in the Marsabit

County, where cyclical conflicts are often triggered by access to resources such as water and

pasture. As discussed previously in the problem statement, communities in Marsabit have

been marginalised under successive Kenyan regimes. Therefore, it was hoped that devolution

would address these historical injustices. Hence, devolution was received with high

expectations and enthusiasm. As previously discussed, both ReGaBu and KAYO roll out

services and government reach to all corners of Marsabit County. However, county

governments’ employment and issuing of government tenders was reportedly marked by

imbalances (Czuba 2018). For instance, during the reign of ReGaBu, it was alleged that

Governor Ukur distributed resources and key government positions to his clan, particularly

the Gabra-Gar. It was also alleged that employment and other opportunities is given to

patronage among political supporters, with a largely tokenistic inclusion of the other

ethnicity. For that reason, Under Regabu devolution process that explicitly promised inclusion

has locked out the majority of people. (Czuba 2018). In this instance, devolution reinforced

ethnic divisions by concentrating power around one dominant community. This perception

created rifts between rival communities. Hence, there is little optimism for devolution

changing the situation without addressing allegations of ethnic favouritism and ensuring

transparency and equitability in the distribution of resources.

Page 21: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


Devolution, if implemented transparently and equitably, offers opportunities for greater

peace in the county. In reality, ethno-political struggles for the control of resources, including

land and government positions, pose the potential for massive destabilisation and create the

potential for recurrent eruptions of violence (Scott-Villiers 2017). There are high

expectations from the public around the issue of resource distribution, land reform and

service delivery and yet disappointment over the slow pace of development initiatives is

growing. These issues need to be addressed by the current and future county governments.

The unequal distribution of resources will derail the objectives of devolution and eventually

infringe the rights provided for in the Kenyan constitution.XLIV

4.3 Socio-economic development

The Kenyan 2010 constitution’s article 174(b) stipulate that the key objectives of

devolution are to promote social and economic development and the provision of easily

accessible services to the residents. One of the abiding assumptions of devolution in Kenya

is the notion that devolution carries an ‘economic dividend’. The economic dividend is in

the potential benefit of opportunities for communities to design and deliver policies that are

attuned to their own needs. As discussed previously, the Marsabit County is gradually

flourishing and the economy is improving. Therefore, devolution in Marsabit presents vast

opportunities to improve the lives of the citizens, as well as to bring services closer to the


Devolution has resulted in the growth of the county’s economy as evidenced in the

increases in the local revenues since adaptation of devolved system. The revenue collection

increased from Ksh 40 million in the financial year (FY) 2013/14 to Ksh116.48 in the FY

2016/2017.XLV The country also collected Ksh 137.4 Million in the FY 2018/19.XLVI During

the year FY 2018/19 Marsabit county has Ksh 7,812 Millions. The main sources of revenue

are; - allocation from National Government, Donors Fund, Conditional Allocation e.g. Road

maintenance, Levy Fund, Free Maternal and Compensation and also from county own

revenue collection.XLVII Using this funds, county government has an opportunity to develop

socio-economic development, strengthen projects in Agriculture and livestock, and expand

youth’s skills and development, Women empowerment and expand citizen business


Page 22: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


The mountain area provides a suitable location for investment and economic

development in the county. The recent completion of the Isiolo-Marsabit highway decreased

the travel-time from Isiolo to Marsabit and also contributes to economic growth in the

county (Kochore 2016). However, factors such as droughts, perennial conflicts, unequal

distribution of resources and poverty, resulting slow socio-economic development, cripple

participation in decision-making processes, obstruct the movement of persons.

4.4 Inclusivity, transparency and accountability

The objectives of devolution in Kenya include the promotion of the democratic and

accountable exercise of power (Constitution of Kenya, 2010 Article 174 (a)). Democratic

governance emphasises that decision-making is based on participatory approaches (Ibid.

Article 174 (c)), all level of government, governors and leaders should maintain inclusivity,

accountability and constructive engagement with the various stakeholders. In addition, key

national principles of governance, as articulated in Article 175, stipulate that county

governments be based on democratic principles and the separation of powers. These

principles are further echoed in Article 10, which highlights national values to include human

dignity, equity, equality, inclusiveness, social justice, human rights, non-discrimination and

protection of the marginalised, as well as good governance, integrity, transparency and


Section 35(1) of the County Government Act provides that the governor shall ensure

that the composition of the executive committee reflects the community and cultural

diversity of the county and take into account the principles of affirmative action as provided

for in the constitution. Furthermore, the county assembly is directed not to approve

nominations for appointment to the committee if they do not take into account the

representation of minorities and marginalised communities, as well as community and

cultural diversity within the county. Kenya’s 2010 constitution also mandates parliament to

legislate so that membership in both county assembly and county executives reflects the

‘cultural diversity of a country’ and that minorities within countries are protected (Article 197


Transparent, accountable and democratic governance is, therefore, an imperative if

economic integration is to be realised and conflict reduction addressed effectively. However,

the existence of conflict and underdevelopment in Marsabit undermines the objectives of

Page 23: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


devolution. Lack of accountability, transparency and inclusivity fans conflicts and instability,

where conflicts leads to death and the destruction of property. There is growing consensus

on good-governance-development-peace linkages, which remain vital for any form of

transformation to occur in the Marsabit County. There is also an urgent need to put proactive

strategic policy measures in place that will effectively promote peace, conflict resolution and

improve the well-being of the people.

Structures and systems, as in the first county government, which permit a few people to

have inordinate riches while the majority of the citizens remain disadvantaged, must be

substituted by arrangements that nurture the generation of wealth in a way that promotes

justice and good living standards. The opinions and lived experiences of the people of

Marsabit – including the poorest – must be heard. The challenge is to make conflicts, wars

and chaos come to an end and strive towards a new county of peace, stability, economic-

growth, development and a sustainable pattern of livelihood.

5. Concluding remarks

The adaptation of a devolved system in Kenya is gradually transforming the counties as

socio-economic development has been enhanced, and the participation of minorities and

women in the government programmes developed. The county government in Marsabit is

enhancing economic development and expanding the activities that fall within the ambit of

county government, such as health, education and cultural activities. Critical challenges

remain and these include, ethnic conflicts, the scarcity of resources, insecurities and the

unequal distribution of resources by the county government. The study recommends that

the county government should settle ethnic conflicts, enhance cultural diversity and foster

peace and economic development in order for the objectives of devolution to be realised.

The county government should also establish an independent commission consisting

national and local experts to offer solutions on the contentious issues at the core of inter-

clan frictions, such as boarder lands, wells, and access to grazing land, and just restorations

for the losses. Finally, the county government should also cultivate accountability,

transparency, inclusivity and the equitable distribution of county resources.

I Doctoral Candidate, Center for Comparative Law in Africa, Faculty of Law. University of Cape Town.

Page 24: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


II According to Gertzel, the Provincial Administration during the colonial period was a sophisticated, centralised machine through which governor administrator by direct rule. III Bulle & Ombui (2016) state that ‘Most districts of Northern Kenya were marginalized as the sessional paper ten (10) of 1967 could not give them opportunity as they are regarded as /Northern frontier district which does not add any value to the country (Kenya) the sessional paper sought to invest heavily in agricultural production area identified by colonial government, with the hope that it would include d the rest of the country which was not effectively achieved’. IV The United Nations Special Rapporteur stated that the dispute over the results of the 2007-2008 general elections were intensified by issues of land and ethnicity with the ensuing violence leading to more than 1500 people killed, thousands injured, widespread looting and land grabbing. See United Nations, 2011 ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally displaced Persons, Chaloka Beyani’, Human Rights Council, Nineteenth Session, and Agenda Item3. United Nations General Assembly, New York. V See schedule of the Kenya Constitution 2010, for the functional areas of county government. VI The article uses desktop study to appraise how these functions have been rolled out in the Marsabit County. VII For a comprehensive background and explanation of the objectives behind devolution in Kenya, see Ghai 2015. VIII The new constitution, under Articles 6 and 176, establishes a system of devolved government consisting of national and county governments. IX The two houses of parliament are the National Parliament and Senate. X Article 248 of the 2010 Constitution establishes nine commissions and independent offices, including the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the Commission for Revenue Allocation, the Parliamentary Service Commission, the Judicial Service Commission, and the Public Service Commission. These commissions differ from the commissions based on the 1969 Constitution because they have an express provision outlining their independence from other arms of government and are administratively and financially delinked from the executive. XI Article 56 of the Kenya Constitution, 2010, stipulates that ‘The State shall put in place affirmative action programmes designed to ensure that minorities and marginalised groups— (a) participate and are represented in governance and other spheres of life; (b) are provided special opportunities in educational and economic fields; (c) are provided special opportunities for access to employment; (d) develop their cultural values, languages and practices; and (e) have reasonable access to water, health services and infrastructure’. Article 102(2) (b) deals with some in-depth inclusion of minority and marginalised groups to ensure greater certainty of the application of bills of rights to marginalised groups. Specific obligations are imposed on the state (which also include the counties) with regard to minority and marginalised groups and persons with disabilities (Arts 52, 54 and 56). A specific object of the devolution of government is then to protect and promote the interests and rights of minorities and marginalised communities (Art 174). XII The objectives of devolution in Kenya, as provided for in the article 174(a)-(h) include,- promotion of the democratic and accountable exercised of power, to foster national unity by recognising diversity, to give powers of self-governance to the people and enhance the participation of people in the exercise of the powers of the state and in making decisions affecting/, and to protect and promote the interest and rights of minorities and marginalised communities. XIII Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), n.d. Kenya Population and Housing Census, August 2009–Population Distribution by Sex, Number of Households, Area, Density, and County, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), Nairobi. See also Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) (2019) Kenya Population and Housing Census, August 2009–Population Distribution by Sex, Number of Households, Area, Density, and County, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), Nairobi. XIV Ibid. XV The county has 20 Ward Assemblies. The county electoral wards are; - Saku, 3, Laisamis 5, North Horr, 5 and Moyale 7. See County government of Marsabit (2019) The second county, integrated development Plan (CIDP). XVI The Waso Borana are mostly Muslims. XVII The budget allocation for Marsabit County increased from Kenya Shilling (KSHS) 3.906 Billion in the Financial Year (FY) 2013/14 to 7 Billion KSHS in the FY 2019/20. Government of Kenya (GOK), Commission on Revenue Allocation Budge 2013-2014, See Also County Government of Marsabit, County Fiscal Strategy paper (CFSP) 2018. XVIII Kayo- is derived from the Borana/Oromo words meaning peace or success XIX Inaugural speech, presented at the Marsabit Stadium. XX The research is a desktop appraisal offering an analysis of county activities that take places in many forums

Page 25: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


with outcomes entering public domain through means such as government statements, newspaper editorials, nongovernmental briefings and academic articles. XXI The Modern level 4 Hospital with complete theatre and x-ray wing was built at the cost of 450 million kenya shillings, the facility he said to accommodate more patience’s than it was before. See Mugo, J’ 2016 ‘North Horr get a Ksh 450 Million level four Hospital’ Citizen News, available at Accessed 4th September 2019. XXII Chari, A , 2019 ‘ Governor Ali launches modern facilities at Marsabit Referral Hosptal’ Star News , 6th May 2019’ available at accessed 4th September 19. XXIII County Government of Marsabit, County Fiscal Strategy Paper (CFSP) -2018. XXIV The ECD enrolment is estimated to be 19, 239 with a total number of 413 teachers. The primary population is estimated to be 46,178 pupils, while Secondary schools stand at 6028 and 568 students enrolled in Vocational training colleges. Marsabit County (2019) Second County Integrated Development Plan 208-2022. For national statistics see, Ministry of Education, Science & Technology (2014) Basic Education Statistical Booklet, Nairobi. XXV Marsabit county has 253 public ECDC and 64 Private, 231 Primary school (181 public, 50 Private), 43 Secondary Schools, 4 Youth Polytechnic and 8 Vocational Training Centres. Marsabit County (2019) Second County Integrated Development Plan 2018-2022. XXVI In the Financial Year 2018/19 more than 500 Million KSHS were allocated to the Youth polytechnic and skills development by KAYO government. XXVII The Constitution 2010, Article 1(2), Article 10(2) a,b and c, Article 27, 33, 35, article 174c,d ; article 184(1), article 232(1) (d) Fourth Schedule Part 2(14) and The Public Finance and Management Act 207. XXVIII See reference to public participation see also; County Government Act, Section 91-96, section 100 and 101. XXIX REGABU passed – Marsabit County Civic Education and Public Participation Bill, 2015. Whilst, KAYO passed the Marsabit County Citizen Charter: Civic Education and Public Participation policy. [Cursor look]? at the content shows both policies are aimed at involving th public in the activities and programs of the county government. XXX For recent public participation see public participation schedules to the public draft finance bill 2019, available at see also See also At the launch of the Marsabit County Citizen Charter- Deputy governor Hon Riwe argues that county planning and administration is anchored on consultative process between informed citizen and responsive government. See XXXI However, in recent years, livestock raiding has become more frequent, violent and destructive. Cattle rustling has been common practice among pastoral communities in eastern Africa since the pre-colonial period (Gray et al. 2003). XXXII Cattle raiding is to some extent, a response to disasters such as drought and an attempt to increase the yields of livestock by increasing numbers in a good season as an insurance against bad seasons. XXXIII Marsabit County’s proximity to the borders with Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia and the porosity of the country’s borders and bordering communities give access to small arms and ammunitions, which are used by ethnic groups fighting with rival communities. XXXIV For comprehensive reports on Marsabit conflicts, please see SRIC 2014 ‘Report on Marsabit Pastoralists’ Tension, The Influence of Unsealed National Boundaries and Developing Political Outfit on Pastoralists’ Conflict in Marsabit’. See also Scott-Villiers 2017. XXXV Ibid. XXXVI On 12 July 2005, about 1,000 heavily armed bandits made a series of raids in the Didagalgalu area, some 130 kilometres from Marsabit Town. At least 53 people, including children, were killed (Witsenburg 2012). XXXVII In a revenge attack, 10 people were killed in the Bubisa Trading Centre, 80 km from Turbi. XXXVIII Komu, N & Walter, J (2019) Kenya: Police officers among 10 Killed in Marsabit Bandit Attack, (All-Africa News, November 19). Available at XXXIX Borana herders have conflicted with pastoral Rendille and Samburu along the district boundaries from southern Marsabit to Isiolo, east of the long Isiolo–Marsabit–Moyale highway (Fratkin and Roth 2005). XL Marsabit County shares an international border with Ethiopia, stretching over 500 km from Moyale to the east and all the way to Illeret at the top of Lake Turkana to the west. XLIMoyale is basically two towns in one: the smaller section on the Kenyan side and the bigger one on the

Page 26: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


Ethiopian side with the border running between them. The Kenyan Moyale is made of seven (7) County Assembly Wards, namely: Butiye, Sololo, Heillu, Golbo, Moyale Township, Urain and Obbu. XLII During the Derg (Provisional Military Administration Council) between 1974 and 1991, Moyale was under Borana Awraja (Province). Local communities include the Borana, Garreh and Gabara communities, who lived in peace and harmony for years. During this period, Borana held uncontested control of the traditional wells. With the demise of Derg, the Borana province was split into two regional states and became two competing Woredas (districts), Oromia-Moyale and Somali-Moyale, without any clear demarcation. See Tache & Oba 2009. XLIII See also Markakis 1997; Maxwell and Reuveny 2000. XLIV Art 174(g) of the Kenya 2010 constitution provides that the objectives of devolution is to ensure the equitable sharing of national and local resources and to promote the interest of minorities and marginalised. Communities. XLV County Government of Marsabit (2019). XLVI Ibid. XLVII County collection revenues from business permits, livestock licenses, land and transportations charges and hospital bills. Ipsos MORI 2016). References

• Aden Abdi, 2014, ‘Clans, Conflicts and Devolution in Mandera, Kenya’, Insight on Conflict, October 14, 2014.

• Arero Hussein, 2007, ‘Coming to Kenya: Imagining and Perceiving a Nation among the Borana of Kenya’, Journal of Eastern African Studies, I(2): 292-304.

• Bancati Dawn, 2009, Peace by Design, Managing Intrastate Conflict through Decentralisation, Oxford University Press, New York.

• Bosire Conrad Mugoya, 2015, ‘Political Structures and Politics of Counties in Kenya’ in Steytler Nico and Ghai Yash P. (eds), Kenyan-South African Dialogue on Devolution, Juta, South Africa.

• Branch Daniel, 2011, Kenya: Between Hope and Despair, 1963-2011, Yale University Press, New Haven CT.

• Bulle Sora Wario & Ombui Kepha Andrew, 2016, ‘Determinant of Leadership and Governance in Marsabit County’, International Journal of Scientific Research, VI(1): 174-181.

• Buma Yattani D. and Begi, N., 2016, Socio-cultural factors impeding children’s access to early childhood education. A case of Turbi Division, Marsabit North Sub-county, Kenya 2nd International Annual Conference on Education and Lifelong Learning 2015 Printed by: Chekalyn Prime Enterprises Limited

• Carrier Neil and Kochore Hassan H., 2014, ‘Navigating Ethnicity and Electoral Politics in Northern Kenya: The Case of the 2013 Election’, Journal of Eastern African Studies, VIII(1): 135-152.

• Cassanelli Lee, 2010, ‘The Opportunistic Economics of the Kenya-Somali Borderland in Historical Perspective’, in Feyissa Dereje and Hoehne Markus Virgil (eds), Borders and Borderlands as Resources in the Horn of Africa, James Currey, Woodbridge, 133-150.

• Chambers Robert, 2002 ‘Relaxed and Participatory Appraisals: Notes on Practical Approaches and Methods for Participants in PRA/PLA-related Familiarization’, IDS: University of Sussex.

• Cheeseman Nic et al., 2016, ‘Decentralisation in Kenya: The Governance of Governors’, Journal of Modern African Studies, LIV(1): 1-35.

• Cornell Agnes & D’Arcy Michelle, 2014, ‘Plus ça Change? County-level Politics in Kenya after Devolution’, Journal of Eastern African Studies, VIII(1): 173-191.

• Czuba Karol, 2018, ‘Ethnic politics in Marsabit’, Working paper available at accessed 27 August 2019.

• D’Arcy Michelle and Cornell Agnes, 2016, ‘Devolution and Corruption in Kenya: Everyone’s Turn to Eat?’, African Affairs, CXV(459): 246-273.

• Fratkin Elliott and Roth Eric Abella, 2005, As Pastoralists Settle: Social, Health and Economic Consequences of Pastoral Sedentarisation in Marsabit District, Kenya, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York.

• Galaty John G., 2002, ‘Pastoral Conflicts across Northern Kenya’, L’Afrique Orientale: 236-256.

Page 27: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


• Galaty John G., 2005a, ‘States of Violence: Ethnicity, Politics and Pastoral Conflict in East Africa’, Geography Research Forum, 25: 105-27.

• Gertzel Cherry, 1966, ‘The Provincial Administration in Kenya’, Journal of Commonwealth Political Studies, IV(3): 201-215.

• Gertzel Cherry et al., 1969, Government and Politics in Kenya: A Nation-building Text, East African Publishing House, Nairobi

• Ghai Yash, 2008, ‘Devolution: Restructuring the Kenyan State’, Journal of Eastern African Studies, II(2): 211–226.

• Ghai Yash, 2015, ‘Devolution in Kenya: Background and Objectives’, in Steytler Nico and Ghai Yash, Kenyan-South African Dialogue on Devolution, Juta, South Africa.

• Government of Kenya, 2006a, Early Childhood Development Policy Framework, Ministry of Education, Nairobi.

• Government of Kenya. 2006b, Early Childhood Development Service Standard Guidelines for Kenya, Ministry of Education, Nairobi.

• Government of Kenya, 2010, The Constitution of Kenya, Kenya Law Reporting, Nairobi.

• Government of Kenya, 2012a, A Policy Framework for Education: Aligning Education and Training to the Constitution of Kenya (2010) and Kenya Vision 2030 and beyond, Ministry of Education, Nairobi.

• Government of Kenya, 2012b, The County Governments Act, Kenya Law Reporting, Nairobi.

• Government of Kenya, 2013, The Basic Education Act, 2013, Kenya Law Reporting, Nairobi.

• Government of Kenya, 2016, Education Sector Report 2017/18-2019/20, Ministry of Education, Nairobi.

• Gray Sandra et al., 2003, ‘Cattle Raiding, Cultural Survival, and Adaptability of East African Pastoralists’, Current Anthropology, XLIV(S4): 3-30.

• Hagmann Tobias and Alemmaya Mulugeta, 2008, ‘Pastoral Conflicts and State-building in the Ethiopian Lowlands’, Africa Spectrum, XLIII(1): 19-37.

• Haro Guyo O. et al., 2005, ‘Linkages between Community, Environmental, and Conflict Management: Experiences from Northern Kenya’, World Development, XXXIII(2): 285-299.

• Hassan Mai, 2013, ‘Continuity despite Change: Kenya’s New Constitution and Executive Power’, Democratization, XXII(4): 1-23.

• Huka Bonaya D., 2014, ‘Dynamics and Spillover of Regional Conflicts in the Horn of Africa: A Critical Analysis of Turbi Massacre’, MA thesis, University of Nairobi, IDS.

• Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), n.d., Kenya Population and Housing Census, August 2009–Population Distribution by Sex, Number of Households, Area, Density, and County, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), Nairobi.

• Kenya TJRC, 2013, Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission Report, Nairobi

• Kochore Hassan H., 2016, ‘The Road to Kenya?: Visions, Expectations and Anxieties around New Infrastructure Development in Northern Kenya’, Journal of Eastern African Studies, X(3): 494-510.

• Markakis John, 2011, Ethiopia: The last two frontiers, James Currey, Oxford.

• Markakis John, 1997, Resource Conflict in the Horn of Africa, Sage Publication, London.

• Maxwell John W. and Reuveny Rafael, 2000, ‘Resource Scarcity and Conflict in Developing Countries’, Journal of Peace Research, XXXVII(3): 301-322.

• Muigai Githu, 2004, ‘Jomo Kenyatta and the Rise of the Ethno-nationalist State in Kenya’ in Berman Bruce et al. (eds), Ethnicity and Democracy in Africa, James Currey, Oxford, 200-217.

• Mwangi Oscar, 2006, ‘Conflict in the ‘Badlands’: The Turbi Massacre in Marsabit District’, Review of African Political Economy, XXXIII(107): 81-91.

• Nabwire Linda, 2018, ‘A Critical Analysis of the Concept Majimbo in Kenya’s Political Circle’, International Journal of Language and Linguistics, V(3): 131-143.

• Oba Gufu, 2013, Nomads in the Shadows of Empires: Contests, Conflicts and Legacies on the Southern Ethiopia-Northern Kenya Frontier, Brill, Leiden.

• Ogot Bethwell A., 1995, ‘Politics of Populism’ in Ogot Bethwell A. and Ochieng William R. (eds), Decolonization and Independence in Kenya, 1940–1993, East African Educational, Nairobi, 187-213.

• Ombat C & Ngasike L, 2019, ‘11 People killed near Kenya-Ethiopia border’, available at

Page 28: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


• Pkalya Dominic et al., 2003, Conflict in Northern Kenya: A Focus on Internally Displaced Conflict Victims in Northern Kenya, ITDG-EA.

• Rare Halkano Sora and Ombui Kepha, 2017, ‘Effects of devolution in improving living standards of Marsabit County’, International Journal of Social Science and Humanities Research, V(2): 465-471.

• Roba Adano Wario and Witsenburg Karen, 2005, ‘Once Nomads Settle: Assessing the Process, Motives, and Welfare Changes of Settlements on Mount Marsabit’ in Fratkin Elliot & Roth Eric (eds), As Pastoralists Settle: Social, Health, and Economic Consequences of Pastoral Sedentarization in Marsabit District, Kenya, Kluwer Academic, New York, 105-136.

• Salvadori Cynthia, 2000, The Forgotten People Revisited: Human Rights Abuses in Marsabit and Moyale Districts, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Nairobi.

• Schlee Günther, 1989, Identities on the Move: Clanship and Pastoralism in Northern Kenya, Manchester University Press, Manchester UK.

• Schlee Günther, 1991, ‘Traditional Pastoralists: Land Use Strategies’ in Schwartz Horst Juergen et al. (eds), Range Management Handbook of Kenya, Nairobi.

• Schlee Günther, 2007, ‘Brothers of the Boran Once Again: On the Fading Popularity of Certain Somali Identities in Northern Kenya’, Journal of Eastern African Studies, I(3): 417-435.

• Schlee Günther and Shongolo Abdullahi A., 2012, Pastoralism and Politics in Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia, James Currey, Xford

• Scott-Villiers Patta et al., 2014. ‘Roots and Routes of Political Violence in Kenya’s Civil and Political Society: A Case Study of Marsabit County’, Evidence Report No. 71, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton.

• Scott-Villiers Patta, 2017, ‘Small Wars in Marsabit County: Devolution and Political Violence in Northern Kenya’, Conflict, Security & Development, XVII(3): 247-264.

• Shinali Maryconsolata and Kamau Bonface, 2016, ‘A critical analysis of county governments’ role in financing early childhood development and education programmes: The case of Narok County’, Educational Research International, V(1): 87-91.

• Tache Boku and Gufu Oba, 2009, ‘Policy-driven Inter-ethnic Conflicts in Southern Ethiopia’, Review of African Political Economy, XXXVI(121): 409-426.

• UNDP, 2015, Concept Note on Cross-Border Regional Cooperation for Conflict Prevention, Peacebuilding and Sustainable Development: International Communities’ Support to Marsabit County and Southern Ethiopia, UNDP.

• UNESCO, 2010, Reaching the marginalized EFA Global Monitoring Report 2010, UNESCO, Paris.

• UNESCO, 2017, Unpacking Sustainable Development Goal 4: Education 2030, ED-16/ESC-PCR/GD/1. (REV. Oct. 2017), Education Sector, Paris.

• Witsenburg Karen & Roba Adano Wario, 2004, Surviving Pastoral Decline: Pastoral Sedentarisation, Natural Resource Management and Livelihood Diversification in Marsabit District, Northern Kenya, PhD Thesis, University of Amsterdam.

• Witsenburg Karen & Roba Adano, 2007, ‘The Use and Management of Water Sources in Kenya’s Drylands: Is there a Link between Scarcity and Violent Conflicts?’, in Derman Bill et al. (eds), Conflicts over Land and Water in Africa, James Currey, Oxford.

• Witsenburg Karen and Roba Adano, 2009, ‘Of Rain and Raids: Violent Livestock Raiding in Northern Kenya’, Civil Wars, XI(4): 514-538.

• Witsenburg Karen, 2012, ‘Ethnic Tensions in Harsh Environments: The Gabra Pastoralists and their Neighbors in Northern Kenya’, in Witsenburg Karen & Zaal Fred (eds), Spaces of Insecurity: Human Agency in Violent Conflicts in Kenya, African Studies Centre, Leiden.

• World Bank, 2015, ‘Kenya Devolution Working Paper Series: Summary Overview’, World Bank Group, Washington, DC.

• Zeleza Paul, 2008, ‘Introduction: The Causes and Costs of War in Africa: From Liberation Struggles to the “War on Terror”’, in Nehema Alfred and Zeleza Paul (eds), The Roots of African Conflicts: The Causes and Costs, James Currey, Oxford. Other sources

• The Constitution and Legislation

• Constitution of Kenya 2010

• Constitution of Kenya, 1993. (repealed).

• Constitution of Kenya, 1994 (repealed).

Page 29: Devolution and Peacebuilding in Kenya ... - on Federalism

Except where otherwise noted content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Italy License E -


• Constitution of Kenya Act No. 5 of 1969 (repealed).

• Public Finance Management Act No. 18 of 2012.

• County Governments Act No. 17 of 2012.

• Urban Areas and Cities Act No. 13 of 2012.